One of the more potentially awesome things about Microsoft's vision of a DRM-laden future was the ability to play your games on any other Xbox One console. With everything being digital, all you had to do was sign in via your account and you could start playing your games while at a friend's house. Sony has revealed that it has a similar idea in store for the PS4.
At Develop, Sony R&D Senior Team Leader Neil Brown said that any digital game you own on the PS4 can be played on any other PS4 as long as you're signed into your account. He also says that the "Play as you Download" option on the PS4 makes transporting your digital game library almost as easy as transporting your physical game library:
“You can visit your friends house you can log into your account and play any game from your digital library, which is good. But how useful is that if it takes half a day to download the game you want to play? With Play As You Download you get much quicker access to at least the first section of the game so you can start playing quicker. So this makes a digital library a practical option in the real world.”
It's apparent that Sony is trying to sell the convenience of digital game ownership in the next generation. It's already doing a pretty solid job of it on the PS3 with Day 1 Digital, but the infrastructure in place on the dated PS3 just isn't built for all of the realities of digital ownership. With the PS4 and Xbox One, we're going to see an increased push towards an all digital future where physical copies are really only a tool to wean gamers off of physical ownership.
Speaking of physical game ownership, those who decide to buy the blu-ray version of games on the PS4 will still have to deal with game installs. Unlike the PS3, however, Brown says game installs will happen automatically in the background while you're playing the game:
“A similar system also works on Blu-ray, chunks are automatically copied to the hard drive in the background. This means that after the first few minutes your game can rely on having faster read speeds from the hard drive. Which provides a better experience for players, and this is a completely background process for the player. They don’t have to wait for anything to install before playing the game. The game will launch as soon as the disk has been put in the drive.”
It's great that the PS4 and Xbox One are eliminating some of the inconveniences of console gaming, but both platform holders will have to be careful in regards to where they go next. Microsoft admittedly had a lot of great ideas in regards to its DRM scheme, but it didn't give enough in return to gamers to justify the removal of game trade-ins. Going forward, both platform holders will have to figure out the best way to encourage an all digital future that gives back as much as it takes away.[h/t: OPM UK]